US Supreme Court dismisses Volkswagen appeal on emissions tampering

The justices refused to hear an appeal of a lower court decision by VW and German auto supplier Robert Bosch LLC, which allowed Florida’s Hillsborough County and Utah’s Salt Lake County to tinker with vehicle emissions controls, except for companies under local laws and regulations. allowed to be held liable.



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The court also dismissed VW’s appeal for a similar ruling in a case brought by the state of Ohio.

The US Supreme Court on Monday rejected Volkswagen AG’s bid to avoid lawsuits filed by officials in three states seeking damages from the German automaker’s diesel emissions fraud scandal. The justices refused to hear an appeal of a lower court decision by VW and German auto supplier Robert Bosch LLC, which allowed Florida’s Hillsborough County and Utah’s Salt Lake County to tinker with vehicle emissions controls, except for companies under local laws and regulations. allowed to be held liable. The court also dismissed VW’s appeal for a similar ruling in a case brought by the state of Ohio.

A VW spokesperson said the court’s decision not to hear the appeal was not a “determination of the merits” of the company’s legal arguments.

“We are confident in the strength of our factual and legal defenses that software updates have reduced emissions, and will vigorously contest these claims,” ​​the spokesperson said.

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VW has said it could face heavy losses in the cases and potentially others.

Volkswagen Group of America Inc., a subsidiary of Volkswagen, has argued that under the Clean Air Act, the landmark US environmental law, only the federal government could pursue such claims. VW noted that it has already inked more than $20 billion in agreements with the US Environmental Protection Agency. The lawsuits accused VW of defrauding the EPA—and also violating local laws in doing so.

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court recognized that federal environmental law does not give carmakers the right to defraud Ohioans,” said a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

A spokeswoman for lawyers representing both counties said the Supreme Court action “reaffirmed that local governments play an important role in tackling air pollution.”

President Joe Biden’s administration, asked by the court to weigh the dispute, urged judges not to hear the case, saying the Clean Air Act allows state laws to apply.

In one case, Volkswagen was seeking to reverse a 2020 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit decided that the Clean Air Act did not undo local efforts to impose liability on vehicles that were tampered with by VW after they were sold. The 9th Circuit, however, agreed with VW that under local anti-tampering laws it could not be held liable for actions taken in the pre-sale.

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Volkswagen announced in September that it has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle similar claims in New Hampshire and Montana.

The 9th Circuit said its decision could result in a “shocking liability for Volkswagen”.

Volkswagen was also seeking to reverse a June 1 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court that reached a similar conclusion.

VW has said it could face heavy losses in the cases and potentially others. Daimler AG and FiatChrysler, part of Stelantis NV, are facing similar claims.

Volkswagen announced in September that it has agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle similar claims in New Hampshire and Montana.

In 2015, Volkswagen revealed that it had used sophisticated software to avoid nitrogen oxide emissions requirements in approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide. It also misled the EPA, which began asking questions in 2014.

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In addition to equipping the vehicles with “defeat devices” before they were sold, VW also installed software updates after the sale, which was the conduct at issue before the Supreme Court. At the time, VW did not disclose the actual purpose of the updates, which were aimed at refining the software used to control the emissions.

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